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British tenants grow in financial confidence, but rental culture remains insecure

Press Releases   •   Sep 14, 2016 01:00 BST

The study found a growing financial confidence among tenants, as more see home ownership as a realistic prospect. In 2013, 67 per cent of tenants surveyed said they rent because they can’t buy, and didn’t expect that to change. This year, that figure has fallen to 44 per cent, as four in ten tenants (equal to 1.7 million) say they expect to get off the rental market within five years.

The number of tenants saving for a deposit has doubled too: a quarter in this year’s survey, up from just thirteen per cent in 2013. This optimism is largely limited to tenants in the under 35 category, however, and the average tenant still expects to rent until the end of 2025 – that is, for a further nine-and-a-half years.

While many rent reluctantly, there is a growing number who choose not to buy. A third of tenants now say their primary reason isn’t lack of options, but the freedom and lifestyle benefits renting brings. Seventeen per cent of tenants are career builders who follow job opportunities or projects around the country. Meanwhile, 18 per cent simply prefer the low commitment of renting, both financially and geographically.

While most tenants expect to be on the rental market for a further decade, they will only stay in each rental property for an average of two years. And there is little appetite for a more European culture of five and ten year leases: 61 per cent prefer the status quo of six months to a year, with just 18 per cent saying they would benefit.

One reason identified by the study was that in Britain tenants are a highly mobile population. Within the next five years, two thirds of tenants – or 2.7 million people nationwide – plan to migrate to another part of the UK, and one in ten plan emigration. London, Bristol and Edinburgh top the list of ‘stepping stone towns’, where tenants tend to stay the shortest time.

Shifting sands – the downside of British rental culture

In a country that historically equates property ownership with status or ‘success’, many feel there is a lingering stigma attached to being a tenant. 32 per cent said they feel stigmatised for not being a property owner.

Another downside of Britain’s short-term rental culture is a sense of insecurity all round – for both tenants and their landlords. Sixty four per cent of tenants say they worry about being forced out of their property at short notice. Older tenants and those with children worry most: “I just wonder what will happen if my landlord sells my house and I have to move, which is not easy to do at 72 years old. I’ve built a social life around me in my village and clubs that I go to.”

Moving on so often, British tenants also struggle to feel a sense of home or control over their personal space. A third of tenants surveyed said they have to shop around for new tenancies, not because of price, but because it is the only way they can improve their living space, citing restrictions on hanging pictures, having pets and decorating.

In a separate AXA survey, landlords named high turnover of tenants as the thing that most keeps them awake at night. With such tenuous relationships, only a minority say they know their tenants personally, and most (68 per cent) see their tenants once a year or less.

“Private landlords are filling the gap left by the decline in social rentals and home ownership, and they are becoming the second biggest source of housing for the British population,” says Darrell Sansom, Managing Director at AXA Business Insurance. “But rental culture is not as well embedded in British society as in other European countries.”

“Short-term tenancies prevail here, and while bringing benefits to some, this means that both landlords and tenants can feel as if the ground is constantly shifting under their feet. How can tenants create a sense of home in this situation? And for landlords, a revolving door of strangers means income insecurity, periods of vacancy (with much increased risk of damage and crime), and more wear and tear.”

“With such a mobile tenant population, landlords need to work that bit harder to encourage longer stays. Few tenants are interested in being ‘locked in’ to a long lease, but little compromises on things like pets, freebies like broadband or cleaning services, offering to redecorate – can build precious loyalty. As an insurer, we also know that when landlords and tenants get to know each other and talk regularly, they have more peace of mind and greater financial security in the long run.”

The AXA Group is a worldwide leader in insurance and asset management, with 166,000 employees serving 103 million clients in 64 countries. In 2015, IFRS revenues amounted to Euro 99.0 billion and IFRS underlying earnings to Euro 5.6 billion. AXA had Euro 1,363 billion assets under management as of December 31, 2015. In 2015 Interbrand ranked AXA the 1st insurance brand worldwide for the 7th consecutive year.

In the UK AXA operates through a number of business units including: AXA Wealth, AXA Insurance, AXA PPP healthcare, AXA Ireland and an independent distribution business Bluefin. AXA employs over 10,500 staff in the UK.

The AXA ordinary share is listed on compartment A of Euronext Paris under the ticker symbol CS (ISN FR 0000120628 – Bloomberg: CS FP – Reuters: AXAF.PA). AXA’s American Depository Share is also quoted on the OTC QX platform under the ticker symbol AXAHY.

The AXA Group is included in the main international SRI indexes, such as Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) and FTSE4GOOD. It is a founding member of the UN Environment Programme’s Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) Principles for Sustainable Insurance and a signatory of the UN Principles for Responsible Investment.

According to new research by AXA*, British tenants are experiencing a surge of financial optimism, as more see buying as a realistic prospect and more are able to save. Despite the average tenant expecting to rent for a further decade, rental culture remains short-term and highly insecure. AXA calls for deeper cultural change to ensure greater peace of mind for all.

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A tough day in the life for Britain’s female entrepreneurs

Press Releases   •   Apr 08, 2016 11:15 BST

Since the recession, the UK has seen a 38 per cent increase in female self-employment1, and home is largely where this revolution is taking place. According to AXA’s study2, seventy five per cent of women business owners spend three to five days of their week working from home.

Home does throw up some extra challenges for women, however, as they continue to bear the brunt of unpaid domestic labour and childcare. While 65 per cent of men stick to a nine-to-five day in their home offices; only a third of women say they can do the same.

Scheduling the working day around the school-run is common: half of women business owners start work before 7am or after 11am. For one in ten, a typical working day can end up spreading over twelve hours as a consequence. For comparison, only two per cent of self-employed men face such an elongated day.

Fifty one per cent of businesswomen say they also have to squeeze housework into their working hours too (compared to just 23 per cent of men). For a third, this is in response to pressure from their partners or other family members.

Women are also twice as likely to have family members present in their work area during the day. One in four said their work space is regularly invaded by well-intentioned partners trying to entice them away from work – by contrast, only eight per cent of men have the same struggle.

All this amounts to a very crowded day. It is no surprise that erratic working hours are named the biggest source of stress for women business owners, followed by lack of boundaries between family and work space at home.

While putting a strain on business, this crowded day does bring some unexpected benefits, however. The women surveyed struggled less with the loneliness of working alone than men, as well as being far less likely to miss the office or having colleagues to confide in.

“Let’s face it, the UK economy can only suffer if talented entrepreneurs are discouraged because life is becoming impossible,” says Darrell Sansom, Managing Director, AXA Business Insurance. “Our study shows that a day in business looks a lot different – in many ways a lot tougher – for a woman than for a man.

“Enterprise programmes will only be able to succeed in giving women the same start as men when they start addressing their family situations too. It’s time we had a proper conversation about that, and let’s get more research too. Funded nursery care in the first year in business, for instance, could provide that crucial breathing space a woman needs to launch out on her own”.

AXA Business Insurance

AXA Business Insurance is part of AXA Insurance UK plc, which belongs to the AXA group of companies. With us, you choose the business insurance that's right for you. We offer public liability, employers' liability and professional indemnity insurance online to start ups, sole traders, self-employed people and small businesses. In addition we offer van insurance and landlord insurance. AXA Business Insurance also runs Business Guardian Angel which provides resources to help protect and grow small businesses.

You can follow AXA Business Insurance on Twitter @AXAbizteam, for business insurance help, and @AXABizAngel, for the latest business news. You'll also find AXA Business Insurance on Google+ and Facebook - and you can watch expert guides and business case studies on the AXA Business Insurance YouTube channel.

About AXA

The AXA Group is a worldwide leader in insurance and asset management, with more than 161,000 employees serving 103 million clients in 59 countries. In 2014, IFRS revenues amounted to Euro 92.0 billion and IFRS underlying earnings to Euro 5.1 billion. AXA had Euro 1,277 billion in assets under management as of December 31, 2014. In 2015 Interbrand ranked AXA the 1st insurance brand worldwide for the 7th consecutive year.

In the UK AXA operates through a number of business units including: AXA Wealth, AXA Commercial Lines and Personal Intermediary, AXA Personal Direct and Partnerships, AXA PPP healthcare, AXA Ireland and an independent distribution business Bluefin. AXA employs over 12,000 staff in the UK.

The AXA ordinary share is listed on compartment A of Euronext Paris under the ticker symbol CS (ISN FR 0000120628 - Bloomberg: CS FP - Reuters: AXAF.PA). AXA's American Depository Share is also quoted on the OTC QX platform under the ticker symbol AXAHY.

The AXA Group is included in the main international SRI indexes, such as Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) and FTSE4GOOD.

It is a founding member of the UN Environment Programme's Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) Principles for Sustainable Insurance and a signatory of the UN Principles for Responsible Investment.

With only 18 per cent of small businesses run by women in the UK, AXA’s latest research suggests that self-employment truly is a harder choice for them. Irregular hours, children in the office and a higher burden of unpaid work all add up to a tougher working day for women in business.

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About AXA Business Insurance

AXA Business Insurance offers business insurance to small businesses, independent retailers and landlords.

AXA Business Insurance, which is part of AXA Insurance UK plc, protects small business, independent retailers and landlords in the UK. As well as insuring the inspired, the company runs a blog and resource centre for entrepreneurs, AXA Business Guardian Angel. For more information, visit www.axa.co.uk/business or follow @AXAbizteam.

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